This bird, which I think is a sparrow, has lately taken refuge in the corner of our front porch’s roof every few days.  The first time I saw him I had to look again, closely, wondering if he was alive.  I stood in the open door, watching for long minutes before I grew quiet enough to  finally see his little chest expanding and contracting. Yes.  He is alive.  The second time I saw him I thought: oh, wow, what a coincidence.

Now he’s familiar, no longer a shock, no longer a coincidence.  The first time I pointed him out to Grace and Whit they reacted in a way that surprised me: instinctively, their voices fell, their demeanor softened.  When he comes, they each choose to stand in the front door gazing up at him for much longer than I would have expected.  They are riveted, charmed, enchanted.  For some reason they treat him, and the space around him, with a kind of respect and reverence that is rare in the rest of their lives.  Now it is they who point him out to me, and his little corner is the first place they look every time they pass the door.

“Can I name him?” Grace asked me recently.  Of course, I answered.

“I’m going to think about it,” she said.  A couple of days later, she was sitting at breakfast eating her Cheerios in silence.  She chewed and looked quietly out the window.  I cleaned out the coffee maker.  Out of nowhere, she said, “Still.”

I turned to her.  “What, Grace?”

“Still.  That’s the bird’s name.”  I nodded at her.  Tears sprang to my eyes.  “Because he’s so still.”

And, I thought, because he’s still here.  He is still, motionless, quiet, calm.  And he is devoted, dedicated; he comes back.  And now, every time I see him, I can feel something solid and velvety burrow in my chest, can feel my exhales deepen.  And I think:


10 thoughts on “Still”

  1. I love that you’ve cultivated this wonderment in your kids. Still. This is a perfect name.

    “And now, every time I see him, I can feel something solid and velvety burrow in my chest, can feel my exhales deepen. And I think:


    Spectacular. The imagery of something solid and velvety burrowing in your chest is so splendid and descriptive–just so lovely. xoxo

  2. I love this. We have a rabbit who comes to our yard often and the girls become transfixed by her too. How lovely and true that it is so often the natural world that brings us it’s stillness.

  3. What is it about birds? Their delicateness? Their beauty? Wonderment that something normally so fleeting comes and stays and let’s you get close? We have an owl in the large eucalyptus in our backyard. I love warm summer evenings on the back porch listening to its long drawn hoots. So peaceful.

  4. This is so neat because we recently had a dove nesting in the rafters of our garage and I know exactly the reverence of which you speak. Despite the fact that our car had just loudly rumbled in and the bird remained, we still got out of the car in a hushed silence firmly directed by our five year old, and stood gazing up at her until our necks ached. We even tried to close the car doors quietly (not easy.

    Nature brings us back to the awe. Still. xox

  5. Do you know, every day when I come here to read I am more in awe of your ability to notice and learn from everything around you. You frequently make me think over my day to decide what made the same kind of imprint on me, if even for only a moment. I’m not very good at noticing, but you are gently nudging me in the right direction, and I hope that means one day I’ll be able to write like this and share moments like this in my own space.

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